Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Funerals, Mirrors, and Michael Jackson

I think I have a disorder. You may have noticed by now, but if not, you will. I have this thing about seeing parallels in my life. Something will be on my mind and suddenly everything is teaching me more about that thing. Would that make me something like a parallelogram? (my kids would shake their heads in embarrassment that I actually posted that, which brings me a strange satisfaction)

With my husband and our 14 yr old son I attended a funeral yesterday of a man that lived life like no other I have personally met. He grew up in very humble circumstances and learned to work from the time he was a small boy. He had an abusive father, and loving siblings. He grew to be a man who valued the happy things in life and did all he could to spread sunshine in the lives of those he knew, in big and small ways. He was known to buy groceries for random people sharing the same line at the register. He gave away literally millions of dollars to different charities, families and individuals. He helped many who were silently struggling to make ends meet. He paid for many to serve missions. He opened his home, his heart to anyone who needed him both literally and figuratively. A few years ago my current husband was going through the hardest time in his life. Quitting a smoking habit of 20 yrs, leaving alcohol and a lifestyle that was tearing his family apart, Phil had one constant, that was his friend Dave. Dave spent hours on the phone and in person talking and counseling with Phil. Dave had been a part of Phil's life since he was a boy and although grown now, he returned to Dave as a child to a familiar teddy bear. When Phil and I met and started spending time together Phil first introduced me to his family, and Dave next. Aside from his family, Dave's approval meant everything to Phil. Life lessons were shared with both of us while sitting in Dave's living room, surrounded bu simple things that defined Dave and his family. Things like pictures of his kids, symbols of hearts, a beautifully written letter to his wife and countless small objects of meaning to Dave and his sweetheart wife. Without the influence of this one man, I would not have the man that I have now. I have come to see clearly that I would not have Phil without Dave's kind heart. I owe this man so much. As I left the funeral and graveside yesterday there was one thing clear to me and everyone else who was there. Dave had much to give, and he gave it all. It was impossible to know that man without wanting to be a little better yourself. I left with a stronger resolve to reach out more. I will see the moments I could spend with a child, a friend, a stranger and not let them pass by. I will love more openly and not hold back acts of kindness. I am thankful to be able to leave his graveside and know that Phil and I will see him again. We will sit and he will ask us if we lived up to what he taught us. Did all he did make a difference in our lives, or did we set it aside? What did we bring to the table? I am sad to lose a friend, and even sadder to watch my husband and best friend feel the sadness of losing his lifelong friend. With that sadness comes a gratitude that is hard to explain. I am blessed to have known him, and to have had my life changed because of him. I am blessed to know of God's plan of happiness and thankful for the peace that the atonement of our Savior brings in times like these and every day. I am ever grateful to know that his sweetheart knows that her bond with Dave is eternal and that she is not now, nor ever will be, truly alone.

After the funeral my daughter was watching Michael Jackson's "This Is It" movie. One of the songs hit me and has stuck in my mind. It was the kind of thinking Dave had. We all have the power within ourselves to make the world a little better. Within each of our lives there is something we can do to make someones day a little better. Dave was known for big things and small things. One of these things was that he always had a pocket full of packs of gum. He called it happiness gum. Anytime he met you he would greet you with a big smile, extend his hand for a handshake and usually you would find a small rectangle filled with happiness between your hand and his. He would then often pull you in for a big bear hug. I may not hand our packs of gum, but I will find a way to spread happiness. As Michael said, it starts with "The Man (or woman :) In The Mirror"

"Man In The Mirror"

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That's Why I Want You To

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change...

And finally now...a project that fits in here some strange way. I've been playing around with mirrors. It hasn't been as easy as the book I have said it would be, but it's been interesting. I think I need to practice some more on smaller mirrors before I tackle the big 8 ft mirror I want to antique for my living room! Here is one I did that will soon have a newly painted and finished bathroom to go with it!
The mirror above will be for my bathroom, the one below just for fun, not sure what to do with it!

Below is a bouquet of flowers my daughter and I made for Dave's funeral.
The flowers are made out of sticks of gum. We love you Dave!

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